7 reasons to make Munich your spring break vacation destination

7 reasons to make Munich your spring break vacation destination

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

A modern metropolis offering world-class museums, iconic architecture, deep-rooted culinary traditions and a vibrant cultural calendar, there's plenty to recommend Bavaria's vibrant and well-heeled capital. Yet many of those based in Germany choose to visit the country’s third-largest city solely for its Oktoberfest celebrations or as a gateway to Alpine destinations.

With long-distance travel yet to bounce back fully and early spring a non-peak travel season at any rate, could the time be ripe for unhurried exploration of this consistent high-scorer on lists of the cities whose residents enjoy the best quality of life? While an entire week would hardly be enough to get to grips with all Munich has to offer, here is a possible blueprint for giving it a good go:

Day One

As long as it isn’t a Monday—when most museums are closed—devote an entire day to art, architecture, automobiles or any other subject that floats your boat. Amongst the city’s most famed institutions are the Pinakothek der Moderne, one of the world’s most important museums for modern and contemporary art, or the BMW Museum and BMW Welt, a masterpiece of modern architecture from which factory tours of the prestigious auto brand begin. More under-the-radar museums include the Bier- und Oktoberfestmuseum or the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, which puts the cultural history of Bavaria under the microscope.

Day Two

Sports fans will relish the opportunity to discover more about one of Germany’s most successful soccer teams through a visit to the FC Bayern Museum and the Allianz Stadium, home turf to Bayern München. In 1972, Munich hosted the Olympic Games, and the Olympiapark stands as a reminder of this event half a century previously. A visit to these expansive grounds can culminate with a climb across its roof and abseiling or riding a zipline back to solid ground.  

Day Three

Today is the day to discover Munich’s opulent side. Nymphenburg Palace, just a short hop outside city limits, shows how Bavarian royals would spend their summers. The Residenz, with its 130 lavishly appointed rooms, lays bare the wealth and political ambition of the Wittelsbach dynasty. Religious bling can be experienced with a visit to the Asam Church, a riotous wonder of Rococo architecture. For luxury, you can take home, enjoy a spot of shopping along the swanky Maximilianstrasse.

Day Four

Devote this fine day to the discovery of Bavarian and culinary traditions. Start the day with Munich’s most typical breakfast, Weisswurst. This delicate veal sausage—and the water it has been cooked with—  is served in a tureen along with a soft, freshly baked pretzel and a Hefeweizen wheat beer. As you’re living like a local, be sure to consume this before mid-day, because, as the saying goes, “no Weisswurst should ever hear the afternoon church bells.” Your next stop on the tasting tour should be the Viktualienmarkt, where more than 100 market stalls tempt with their range of high-quality products. This being Munich, of course, there’s a beer garden there. Two other essential Bavarian dishes to try today include “Leberkäse,” a meatloaf made of luncheon meat, and “Obazda,” a mix of Camembert cheese and butter, spiced with paprika and caraway.  

Day Five

All cities have features that render them unique, and now that we know the city a little better, it’s time to take a look at some of the things that lend Munich its unique character. Should you have a taste for the macabre, Dark History Tours takes visitors on a walking tour through places associated with the Black Plague, witch trials and other grim passages of history. Other quirky sights to explore include the bejeweled skeleton of Saint Munditia, the patron saint of spinsters laid to rest in St. Peter’s Church, or the Orlando di Lasso statue, which now serves as a shrine to Michael Jackson. If there’s still a chill to the air, the chances of seeing the surfers who take to the waves of the Eisbach River in the English Garden might be slim, but the vast urban park is great for a wander nevertheless.

Day Six

It’s time to escape the confines of the city with a day trip, and with Munich’s comprehensive public transportation network at your service, use of your own vehicle is optional. Children will certainly get on board for a day at Therme Erding, a massive tropical-themed spa and waterpark featuring some of the world’s best water slides. Purists might instead enjoy an outing to the city of Landshut, home of the Trausnitz Castle and what is considered one of Germany’s best-preserved historical cores. The overwhelming beauty of the Herrenchiemsee palace complex, perched on an island on the gorgeous Chiemsee lake, is also something to be experienced once in a lifetime.

Day Seven

If you’re a beer drinker, it’s highly unlikely you have made it through the week without sampling the liquid glory brought forth by one of the city’s six major breweries. The highlight of many a Munich trip is time spent at the Hofbräuhaus, the famous tavern serving pork knuckles the size of one’s head to the accompaniment of oompah music. But as you are visiting in the spring, your visit coincides with Starkbierzeit, or Strong Beer Season. This festival celebrates the wallop-packing, calorific brew that traditionally sustained the monks during the Lenten period, a time when they were expected to abstain from food. A wonderful place to experience Starkbier and Munich culture at its most authentic is Nockherberg, where in non-pandemic times, the Paulaner beer flows freely as the band plays on. While COVID-19 has likely put paid to the fest that would otherwise be taking place from mid-March, sampling the potent wares remains firmly on the table.

Beer, bling and Bavarian culture at its best—Munich can’t help but to inspire and amaze.  

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